Hot dogs topped with neon green relish, onion, and tomatoes are a Chicago institution, and I tried my first at Portillo’s, a busy fast food-style local joint that serves quick, greasy foods from chili cheese dogs to Italian roast beef sandwiches to cheese fries. On a Saturday during lunchtime, the place was packed, and it took a few minutes for our group to snag a table. There are different lines selling different foods, so luckily, our group was large enough that two of us could save the table, while the rest split up in various queues.

I tried the Chicago-style hot dog first: an all-beef frankfurter topped with tons of condiments. (As an aside, my ideal hot dog comes topped with mustard, mayo, ketchup, and diced raw onions.) I’m not a fan of pickles and, thus, relish, so I could’ve done without it. I’m also a purist when it comes to most foods, so this hot dog was too busy for my taste. I think next time, I’d prefer a chili cheese dog. (I know, it’s a little paradoxical of me.)

The Italian roast beef sandwich, however, was bomb. Think Arby’s on steroids. I just wish it was not so messy to eat, but alas, I can’t have everything.

The cheese fries were good too, but all that food felt like a heart attack going down…but I resolved that by washing it all down with a diet Coke (hah!).

Portillo’s is your in-and-out greasy food joint, a must-visit for every first-time visitor to Chicago. Some of my followers on Facebook and Twitter have argued there are far superior places to get hot dogs and roast beefs in Chicago. Do you have an opinion on this hot debate? Weigh in, and I’ll add it to my list of places to try next time I’m in town.

Portillo’s
100 W. Ontario St. (At N. Clark St.)
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: +1 312 587-8910

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